Ataya: The HUMA Interdisciplinary Seminar Series 

A crucial aspect of HUMA's mandate is to create an enticing and vibrant space for critical conversations and encounters. HUMA's Ataya Interdisciplinary Seminar Series is a space for ideas and connection, but also just a physical and virtual space that encourages a different kind of intellectual engagement, with the intention of fomenting a different vision of the university. The seminar series provides a consistent place for engagement, exchange and interaction for the HUMA community and across the faculty.

Format: Ataya happens weekly on Thursdays and is open to all interested. Each Ataya session engages with a particular, selected academic paper. The presenter introduces his/her authored paper and grounds the subsequent discussion with the participants. For best engagement, we recommend participants to read the paper (made available in advance on our website) before the session.

HUMA African Epistemologies Advanced Seminar Series

The African Epistemologies Advanced Seminar Series seeks to showcase African knowledge systems and traditions, especially those not granted adequate visibility or centrality within hegemonic academic curricula. As the series connotes, African and Africanist philosophers are prominently featured, but on the whole, the series encompasses an interdisciplinary orientation. Apart from the central themes of African philosophy, the series also invites speakers to reflect on the questions of African feminisms, Pan-Africanism, race, interculturality and the conundrums of protohistory. However, these broad areas of discourse are to be considered along with other equally critical African-oriented topics with a more or less epistemological tendency.

Under the series, we invite established African and Africanist scholars and researchers who have made sterling contributions to the cause of African scholarship from around the continent and beyond.

Format: The seminars take place on Wednesdays, during which guest lecturers speak for at least 30 minutes, followed by a question and answer segment. The seminars are open to researchers at HUMA, the Humanities Faculty, the broader university community and beyond.

HUMA Book Launch

The HUMA Book Launch is a forum of acknowledgement and critical engagement of work being produced in and on the African continent, but particularly relevant to HUMA's intellectual agenda and research focus. It provides a space for critical discussion of selected books with authors invited to discuss their books with the audience and a panel of experts working in similar fields.

HUMA Book Lunch Series

The Book Lunch is a forum of acknowledgement of and critical engagement with work being produced in and on the African continent, but particularly relevant to HUMA intellectual agenda and research focus. The Book Lunch provides a space for critical discussion of selected books with authors who are invited to discuss their books with the audience and a panel of experts working in similar fields. 

The Book Lunch happens weekly and is open to all interested.

HUMA Critical Policy Discussion Series

The HUMA Critical Policy Discussion Series is a series of conversations of the HUMA Policy Working Group with leading thinkers from the African continent on the most ambitious project African governments have undertaken in the recent past: the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTFA). In this series, we explore different dimensions of the AfCFTA.

Format: The series is designed as a Podcast series. Each webinar will be a discussion on a podcast, which will be published thereafter.

HUMA Disobedience Workshops

The HUMA Disobedience Workshops convene researchers working with theory to learn from each other and from leading experts in a convivial space and away from their daily routines. The workshops fall within HUMA’s objectives to generate and establish new knowledge and epistemic communities through networks, interdisciplinary conversations and intergenerational transmissions. Disobedience workshops aim to introduce and ground students to critical thinking, writing and the critique of knowledge and knowledge production through deep immersion and engagement with the sociology of ideas, philosophy and historical development of human, Southern, marginalised, and African/Africa-centred knowledges. This is undertaken through close/collective reading and discussion of decolonial, postcolonial, feminist and other decentring theory that offer complementary and alternative ways to engage with dominant ideological frames. The workshops focus on the art of working with ideas, concepts, theory, methodologies, writing, researching and thinking in the humanities in Africa. Workshops, mainly residential retreats, are compulsory for HUMA fellows, with spaces available for interested scholars, students and other researchers at the University of Cape Town and beyond. While meetings are mainly in person, virtual participation and day drive-in visits are welcome. 

Format: A workshop consists of a two-and-a-half-day monastic residential meeting to critically discuss select texts and participants' pre-circulated manuscripts with each other and other experts.

The workshops take place on predefined dates throughout the year. Participants have successfully completed a prior application process and are registered automatically. 

HUMA Doctoral Seminar Series

The Doctoral Seminars provide an introduction to the intellectual grounding and guidance on the practical tools of the doctoral journey. It is an interdisciplinary space for discussing classic and critical theories, essential methods, and intriguing new techniques. Speakers are invited to reflect on the core aspects of the core aspects, challenges and strategies of doctoral work, with a particular focus on the turning-points and critical experiences that marked their research journey: theoretical conundrums, ethical dilemmas and, bureaucratic predicaments. The seminar line-up includes HUMA postdoctoral fellows and international scholars.

The Doctoral Seminars happen weekly on Wednesdays. The seminars are open to doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences.

HUMA–FIFE Ethical Humanitarianisms Series

This project addresses the ethical quandaries that underpin humanitarian and philanthropy work in Africa, asking how to build more ethical humanitarian interventions in a world of conflicting ethics. It interrogates the irony and contradiction of humanitarianism worried about its own ethics. 

The project takes its cue from contemporary ethical dilemmas confronting humanitarian work worldwide, with a particular focus on the African continent, where the enterprise of solidarity and generosity has seen a boom over the past years. It critically examines shifts in the fundamental principles that underpin humanitarian work – justice, beneficence, non-maleficence, and autonomy. What new moral, ethical and legal challenges confront the business of saving lives and preserving human dignity? What new ideas and notions of personhood and dignity underpin conceptions of universal values? What compromises are being made, and what is being compromised? We approach humanitarianism more broadly as a notion that incorporates diverse acts of kindness towards humans. These acts of kindness are local and transnational, external and internal, in-kind, cash, technical support, advice, amongst others that activate care and caring relationships. 

The project thus interrogates the ontological and epistemological assumptions that underpin different imaginaries of humanitarianism and ask what it will mean and take to decolonise these. That is, how to account for acts of kindness that usually are not included in “formal” humanitarian projects or conceptions of humanitarianism. What is philanthropy? What is humanitarian work, who gets to define what constitutes humanitarian work, and what are the ethical backgrounds of these classifications?

The Ethical Humanitarianisms project is a collaboration with the Friedensau Institute for Evaluation (FIFE), Germany.

Format: The online seminar happens on the third Tuesday of each month. Two to three panellists present key arguments on the topic and/or question posed for the session (10 minutes each), followed by questions from the moderator. After that, there are 20-30 minutes of Q&A with the participants. Each session is recorded and will be disseminated on HUMA's social media channels. 

HUMA–LASPAD Publishing Africa Seminar Series

The seminar series creates an interdisciplinary space for critical conversations on publishing and dissemination in Africa. It explores the challenges and opportunities that shape African publishing and dissemination, asking: What interventions need to be carried out to strengthen Africa’s publishing and knowledge dissemination infrastructure and ecosystem? The series convenes multiple stakeholders in the knowledge production ecosystem, including scholars, students, publishers, editors, distributors, writers and researchers, amongst others, to discuss the pressing issues in African scholarly publishing.

The 2021 Publishing Africa Seminar Series is part of "Strengthening African Scholarly Publishing and Dissemination", a research project funded by the Open Society Foundation, and a collaboration between HUMA, Institute for Humanities at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and LASPAD, the Research Laboratory for Analysis of Societies, and Powers/Africa-Diasporas at Gaston Berger University (UGB), in Senegal. 

Format: The seminar will be held monthly, in two languages: in English on the first Tuesday of every month and in French on the third Tuesday of every month. The seminar is open to scholars, academics, editors, independent publishers, university presses, policymakers, funders, researchers and all interested in African scholarly publishing and dissemination. 

Zeitz MOCAA – HUMA When We See Us Webinar Series

When We See Us: Exploring Black Subjectivity and Black Consciousness in contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora. For more than a century, Black artists, whether residing in Africa or within the vast African diaspora, have invested and pursued a spectrum of visual vocabularies that encompass the experiences of Blackness – of being Black, of living within Black cultures and navigating the complexities of representation and visibility. In doing so, Black artists have intentionally, continuously and effectively rejected oppressive tropes of representation that have been cast on African and Afro-diasporic lives by the Euro-American enterprise of dehumanisation and segregation.

Conceived by Zeitz MOCAA – Museum of Contemporary African Art in collaboration with the Institute for Humanities in Africa (HUMA) at the University of Cape Town (UCT), the When We See Us webinar series is a 14-part online discursive programme that precedes a major eponymous exhibition, slated to open at Zeitz MOCAA in November 2022. The exhibition, and its accompanying programming, including the webinar series, aims to unveil the deeper historic contexts and networks of complex and underrepresented artistic genealogies that stem from African and Black modernities and span several generations from the early 20th century to the present. 

The title of the exhibition and webinar series is inspired by the 2019 American drama series 'When They See Us', directed by African-American director Ava DuVernay. Flipping 'they' to 'we' allows for a dialectical shift that recentres the conversation in a differential perspective of self-writing as theorised by Cameroonian writer, historian and political scientist Achille Mbembe. 

Figurative painting by Black African and African-descent artists has risen to new prominence in the contemporary art field over the last decade. The webinar series aims to connect artistic practices from the early 20th century to the present day by bringing together thought leaders from the continent and its thriving diaspora to address topics around global Black subjectivity and Black representation from the premise of artistic production. The discursive programme and the exhibition are curated by Zeitz MOCAA Executive Director and Chief Curator Koyo Kouoh and Assistant Curators Tandazani Dhlakama and Thato Mogotsi.

Format: The webinars will take place on selected Tuesdays in 2022. No registration is required.